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Taiwan telecom fraud suspects to face proceedings on the mainland

BEIJING, April 21 -- The 77 alleged telecom fraud syndicate members deported from Kenya earlier this month will be tried on Chinese mainland, a Ministry of Public Security (MPS) official said here Thursday.

Chen Shiqu, deputy inspector with the MPS's criminal investigation bureau made the remarks as a Taiwan delegation is in Beijing to discuss the case with mainland police. Forty-five of the alleged fraudsters are from Taiwan.

"The suspects specifically targeted people on the Chinese mainland and their victims are from the mainland. Not to mention that many of the suspects are themselves from the mainland," Chen said.

"They will thus be investigated, prosecuted and tried in accordance with mainland law," he said.

All 45 Taiwanese suspects have already "admitted their guilt," Chen said.

"Mainland Police will spare no efforts in dealing with telecom fraud syndicates, and we expect authorities in Taiwan will do the same and offer support to the mainland in returning their illicit gains," he added.

In recent years, syndicates led by suspects from Taiwan and based in Southeast Asia, Africa and Oceania have falsely presented themselves as law enforcement officers to extort money from people on the mainland through telephone calls.

In December 2015, one person from Guizhou Province was cheated of 117 million yuan (18.1 million U.S. dollars). Victims in other cases included migrant workers, teachers, students and elderly people, some of whom committed suicide under the pressure of their economic losses.

The 77 suspects deported from Kenya this month are from two syndicates. On Nov. 29, 2014, Kenyan police arrested 48 people from the Chinese mainland and 28 from Taiwan. On April 8, 2016, 19 suspects from the mainland and 22 from Taiwan were apprehended on similar charges.

Chen said the 45 Taiwanese suspects, held in a Beijing detention center, are in good physical condition and their rights have been fully protected.

According to Wang Jianxin, head of the detention center, the suspects are held in 45 different rooms to prevent collusion and have access to lawyers.

Chen Wen-chi, who leads the Taiwan delegation currently in Beijing, agreed that the suspects were in good condition, after visiting the center on Thursday morning. She said she was satisfied with their treatment.

"The MPS's criminal investigation bureau has informed us of their cases in great detail," she said.

In recent years, police from the mainland and Taiwan have worked together in 47 operations. arresting more than 7,700 fraud suspects, about 4,600 of whom are from Taiwan.

In many of the cases handled in Taiwan mainland victims were unable to recover their losses, An Fengshan, spokesperson for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, told a news conference last week. Some suspects were released as soon as they returned to Taiwan and resumed their criminal activities.

The MPS estimates that Taiwan fraud syndicates are causing losses of some 10 billion yuan (about 1.54 billion U.S. dollars) to mainland victims annually, but so far only 207,000 yuan have been recovered from Taiwan.

In a separate development on Thursday, 18 fraud suspects repatriated from Malaysia were re-arrested in Taiwan and two more were banned from leaving the island less than a week after they had been released for lack of evidence.

Prosecutors said the new development was based on evidence obtained from Malaysia.